U-46 Equity Matters Newsletter

Information and Resources for Everyone to Use and Share

February 2, 2022

Published by members of the Equity & Innovation Department


  • Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D, Asst. Superintendent of Equity & Innovation
  • Mitch Briesemeister, Director of Educational Pathways
  • Michele Chapman, Director of Postsecondary Success
  • Lisa Jackson, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Alexa Charsha Hahn, School Counselor Lead
  • Doreen Roberts, Teacher Leader
  • Melissa Stevenson, Administrative Asst. of Equity & Innovation
  • Jennifer Downey, Secretary of Career and Technical Education
  • Margaret Kallal, Secretary of Educational Pathways and Postsecondary Success

From the Desk of Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D

Welcome and thank you in advance for reading our first edition of the Equity and Innovation Department’s newsletter entitled, U-46 Equity Matters. The information provided in our U46 Equity Matters’ first newsletter was created by members of the Equity and Innovation Department: Mitch Briesemeister, Michele Chapman, Lisa Jackson, Alexa Charsha-Hahn, Doreen Roberts, and AVID supporting member, Mr. Al Tamburrino. Additional contributors include Melissa Stevenson, Maggie Kallal, and Jennifer Downey…..We hope that you will find the information we share both timely and relevant.


Here is a snapshot of the work to date (not listed in any particular order of importance):


  • Created and launched five staff affinity groups
  • Revised our equity webpage
  • Launched a social media page (Twitter)
  • Launched a system-wide equity audit (first-ever)
  • Launched the first-ever annual equity symposium over the span of four-days
  • Connected with several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to create a teacher/leader pipeline
  • African American Studies course currently being written, which is led by Jacob Vandemoortel
  • Facilitated more than one dozen professional learning opportunities
  • Paid for more than two dozen staff members to attend professional learning sessions (Learning Forward Conference, etc)


Again, the list above is not to be all-inclusive but to provide a snapshot of the work "we" have accomplished in a little under two years. I encourage you to not only read our first U46 Equity Matters Newsletter but encourage others to read it as well. Our plan is to publish a newsletter monthly. Finally, please check out our webpage, which is managed by Georgie Camacho and Lisa Jackson, and follow us on Twitter at @U46EquityMatte1.


Yours in Service,

Teresa A. Lance, Ed.D

Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Innovation

Panorama Survey Input

As we prepare to capture students' thoughts about their lived experiences in U-46 on the Panorama Survey, we would like to hear from you on possible suggested open-ended questions to pose to our students. Use the button to share your thoughts.

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion... are they synonyms?

This article focuses on the tech industry, but it gives thorough explanations about what each of these terms mean, along with accompanying thought exercises. How can we transfer this knowledge to our own classroom and school settings?

U-46 Equity Plan

Although our equity committee is currently revising our existing equity plan, we encourage you to read through the equity plan here beginning with the board policy, mission statement, and then, core beliefs. Next, examine our equity pillars and noted action steps. Finally, consider what action steps you can take to help bring about equitable outcomes, create an inclusive environment, and honor the unique identities our colleagues, families, and students possess.
Equity Ambassadors

Have you ever wanted to know who serves on our U-46 Equity Committee? Well, you do not have to wonder any longer. Click on the button text to learn more.

Equity Committee Meeting

Thursday, Feb. 17th, 4-6pm

This is an online event.

The U-46 Equity Committee meets on the third Thursday of every month. If your school or department is not represented and you would like to serve as an equity ambassador, please fill out this interest form by February 10, 2022.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)

During the 2020-21 school year, we focused most of our efforts with identifying where each of the 13 AVID secondary sites were regarding their College and Career Readiness (CCR) System development. To assess each school’s status, we developed an interview process for members of each AVID Site Team. Results were compiled and shared with the site team and included some recommendations for moving the school forward with their AVID CCR system. Additionally, we developed a month-by-month listing of key tasks for AVID site teams to make sure that all teams were able to meet various report deadlines and prepare for major events such as staffing and AVID selection processes.


For the 2021-22 school year, we are focusing on using data in site team meetings to inform decisions and site development of their CCR system. We are also mirroring the first phase of change in our U-46 AVID Development Guide by focusing on the AVID elective selection process. To do this, an AVID selection process was developed so that all 13 sites can provide consistency and integrity to the AVID elective selection process. As this is the first year with this selection process, efforts have been made to support appropriate modifications at each site to use the process with fidelity.


AVID Site Coordinators, please review this semester's AVID digital workshop information with your teammates. Remember, these workshops are FREE and a benefit of AVID membership.

PostSecondary Success

On Friday, January 28th, our secondary school counselors participated in the U-46 Counseling Workforce Opportunities professional development. Our school counselors learned more about the welding, automotive, precision manufacturing and engineering programs offered at our U-46 high schools. Counselors also toured Hoffer Plastics and Elgin Sweeper, local industries that are seeking students interested in these technical fields as well as college graduates. This experience will allow our counselors to have more in-depth conversations with students about course options as well as opportunities for after high school.


The post-secondary success office coordinates with U-46 high schools to offer APEX to our students. APEX is the district’s online learning platform that provides our high school students with opportunities for credit recovery. Students have time in their schedule to work on their online credit recovery course and each of our high schools have a teacher assigned to that APEX period to provide our students with learning support. During our first semester, 952 students completed 1200 APEX courses to earn back credit.


We also want to use this opportunity to celebrate the success of our students in the full-time dual credit program. Full-time dual credit students complete all of their junior and/or senior year coursework at Elgin Community College (ECC), earning high school and college credit simultaneously. During the fall semester, we had 66 students on the academic honors list, dean's list, or presidents list for having a semester GPA of 3.0 or above.


Educational Pathways

A great deal of exciting work has been happening in Pathways and CTE. I would like to highlight two areas: Collective Equity, and addressing financial barriers.

This year we have been able to bring professional learning around Collective Equity to our CTE and Magnet teachers. After Drs. Nicole Law and Sonja Alexander kicked off the work with a large group session, we were able to host multiple one-on-one coaching opportunities to directly serve our teachers. We will continue this work with both large group learning opportunities as well as ongoing coaching.

A major component of our work is identifying and eliminating barriers to student success. One barrier that was identified was the cost students were responsible for in order to earn a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification. When you figured in the cost of a background check, test fees, TB tests, a uniform, and other requirements, students and their families were required to pay hundreds of dollars. We have been systematically eliminating these financial barriers through the focused use of grant funds. No student should be denied the opportunity to further their education and serve their communities because they do not currently have the financial resources.

We look forward to continued progress in both of these areas and many more.

Here's Just the Webinar You Need!


From Learning for Justice, "this is the third Equity Matters webinar that delves into implicit biases—the subconscious biases we all have that influence how we respond to others. To create equitable classrooms, educators must acknowledge their own biases and take steps to confront them.


Participants will better understand what implicit bias is and how it affects school climate. They will also learn ways to confront implicit bias within themselves and help students to do likewise."


After clicking on this link, you will have to register to view the 46-minute webinar.

21-22 U-46 Affinity Groups

Affinity Groups in U-46

Affinity groups, which are sometimes referred to as caucuses, are intended to provide spaces for people to work together within their own identity group. These groups are important for the mental health not just of the individual, but the benefits of an organization can be long lasting. A recent article from the Harvard Review suggests African Americans experience trauma frequently and the trauma can escalate when placed in White-dominant working environments. Race-affinity groups provide a safe space to connect and support one another while also processing their lived experiences (Bethea, 2020).


Purpose of Affinity Groups

Create a sense of belonging by allowing for space and time to connect with people of similar backgrounds and experiences while developing and strengthening self-awareness to respond and interrupt social injustices.


Types of Affinity Groups

There are various affinity groups. Some of the more common affinity groups include race-identity affinity groups, LGBTQ affinity groups, and religious affinity groups. Growing in popularity and importance are White Ally Affinity Groups. In school year 20-21, we launched the following affinity groups: African American, Latino/Latina/Latinx, Asian, White Allyship, and LGBTQIA+. We anticipate adding/expanding groups in subsequent phases of the work. Finally, we recognize that we all have many nuanced and overlapping identities and that our identities intersect multiple labels. Therefore, barring no schedule conflicts, participation in one Affinity Group does not preclude an individual who identifies with another group from participating in multiple groups.


Affinity Group Leaders

African American: Geynell Lawrence-Tabb & Darlynn Terry

Asian American: Maheen Hussan & Dolly Mandrelle

Latino/a/x: Gloria Helin

LGBTQIA+: Kendyl Kinshaw

White Allyship: Dustin Covarrubias & Erin Jackle